Gov. Dayton Withholds Signature On Tax Cuts, Sets His Terms For Special Session

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Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton played some of his cards on Wednesday in his post-session negotiations with House Republicans. Dayton signed a spending bill which will begin to establish voluntary pre-Kindergarten for all Minnesota children, continue the expansion of broadband internet access in Greater Minnesota, and begin eliminating racial economic disparities in Minnesota. However, he is is withholding his signature on a tax bill saying it has drafting errors that impact the funding of the new Vikings stadium.

Dayton also outlined his terms for calling a special session — something that Republicans want since the legislature failed to pass a bonding bill.

Dayton wants a transportation bill that includes money for metro transit, changes in the tax bill language and a reinstatement of a tax exemption for the Minnesota High School League that Dayton claims Republicans removed as payback for the league backing rights for transgender students. Republican leaders deny that’s why the exemption was removed.

Dayton also has a list of spending and bonding items that he wants legislative leaders to agree to pass before he will call a special session.

Dayton’s list, Speaker Kurt Daudt’s response
Video above: Governor Dayton’s news conference
Video below: Speaker Kurt Daudt’s response

This is Dayton’s list from a letter he sent legislative leaders:

Education and Job Creation

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Operating Support ($21 million in FY17; $42 million in FY18-19) The $21 million operating budget increase for MnSCU would prevent program, service and workforce training development reductions, particularly in Greater Minnesota.

University of Minnesota (U of M) Health Training Restoration ($10.5 million in FY17; $21 million in FY18-19) The Department of Family Medicine and Community Health to support training at primary care sites and eight residency sites in Greater Minnesota would receive $9.5 million. The School of Dentistry’s mobile dental clinic, which travels primarily throughout Greater Minnesota to provide preventive and primary dental care to underserved communities would receive $1 million.

Special Education Online Reporting System ($1.686 million in FY17) The Supplemental Budget bill canceled a $1.686 million FY14 appropriation for the Special Education online reporting system that the department had moved to the Odyssey Fund. This reporting system would reduce the Special Education paperwork burden on special education teachers.

Transformation Zones/Community Partnerships ($2 million in FY17; $4 million in FY18-19) Among the most effective initiatives to close educational achievement gaps are those driven by local partnerships and using proven programming across sectors affecting children and families. For this reason, I require at least $2 million in additional funding for the Northside Achievement Zone, the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, the White Earth and Itasca County Transformation Zones and the Red Wing, Northfield and St. Cloud programs.

Minnesota Investment Fund & Job Creation Fund ($20.5 million in FY17; $20 million in FY18-19) I stated at the Session’s outset that I would accept no reductions in funding, which the Senate and House passed and which I previously signed into law. The cuts in this year’s supplemental budget bill must be restored to DEED’s Minnesota Investment Fund and Job Creation Fund— two of Minnesota’s most effective economic development tools. DEED is currently working on 73 projects that would create new economic development opportunities throughout the state. Without those incentives, Minnesota would risk losing 4,000 new or retained jobs, $1 billion in leveraged private investment, and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost wages.

Public Safety and Critical Needs
• St. Peter Security Hospital Safe Staffing ($22.291 million in FY17; $76.635 in FY18-19) The supplemental bill includes no specific funding to bring staffing levels at Minnesota Security Hospital up to national standards. Additional resources are critical to end the cycle of crises that has pervaded this facility for decades, and ensure the safety of patients and workers.

• National Guard Security Improvements ($1.562 million in FY17) This funding is essential to implement physical security improvements at Minnesota National Guard facilities to increase the safety of service members, employees and the public.

• Autism Services At the very end of session there was agreement on the Senate proposal to clarify that private insurance must cover autism services as part of the essential health benefits. Families of children with autism have a right to equal access to services, and I insist the Legislature include this clarification in the Special Session.

Higher Education

University of Minnesota Health Sciences Education Facility ($66.7 million) Funding to renovate and modernize the University’s aging medical and health sciences education facilities by building new, state-of-the art labs and classrooms. This will expand the University’s capacity to conduct healthcare research and strengthen educational programs in order to retain and attract the best students and faculty in the nation.

MnSCU HEAPR (An additional $28 million) To repair and replace major building systems across the MnSCU system (like mechanical, plumbing, roof window and building exterior repairs) in order to reduce overall operating and maintenance costs. MnSCU forecasts $745 million is needed to catch up with delayed maintenance needs.

Bemidji State University ($12.1 million) Funding to replace the 45-year-old Hagg-Sauer Hall with a new academic learning center and to renovate other underutilized space on campus. The new space will considerably improve the learning environment on campus providing flexible teaching space to incorporate modern teaching strategies.

Public Safety and Critical Needs
• Minnesota Security Hospital Upgrade Fully Funded (An additional $12.6 million) To delay fully funding the Security Hospital would add up to $2.6 million in additional project cost and increased operating costs. Clients would be
split between the upper and lower campuses resulting in increased staff time and less accessibility to treatment.

• Minnesota Sex Offender Program Phase 2 ($14.5 million) To increase the capacity of MSOP’s Community Preparation Services to provide for public safety as it serves the increasing number of clients in this later stage of treatment. As courts transfer more clients to the community preparation services at a higher rate, the program needs to expand capacity to accommodate the courts and the current waiting list. If the program does not have a place to move these clients, the courts may grant some other form of relief including placement in a less restrictive setting.

• DNR Asset Preservation (An additional $7.1 million) To repair and rehab DNR facilities across the state, including buildings, trails, roads, bridges, public water accesses, water control structures, and for energy efficiency upgrades.

• DNR Park, State Recreation Area and Trail Development- Vermilion/Soudan State Park (An additional $8 million) To construct a new visitor center and rehab the mine shaft at one of the newest state parks in Minnesota.

• Fort Snelling Visitor Center Design and Construction ($34 million) For design and construction costs at Historic Fort Snelling to close its deteriorating Visitor Center and renovate a cavalry barracks building on site as the new Visitor Center, in time for the Fort’s bicentennial in 2020.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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